The colorful ’80s comedy has all the ingredients of a best comedy hit. More potential fans (and voters of the awards) just need to know they exist.
Anyone who’s ever wanted to see “Ted Lasso” has probably already done so. Somewhere deep in the server room at Apple HQ there is likely an algorithm to wrest an additional subset of subscribers from the phenomenon that “Ted Lasso” was to audiences and price selectors. It’s the kind of effort that makes you wonder what Apple TV+ would do if they had a show poised to duplicate that kind of success.
Unless you don’t have to be surprised. They already do.
This week brings season 2 of “Acapulco,” a comedy that’s been on the platform right alongside this football show since it premiered last fall. It is a story told in two parallel tracks. Maximo (Enrique Arrizon), a young bright-eyed clerk, deals with the daily ups and downs of a tourist town in the Acapulco area in the 1980s, while his older self (Eugenio Derbez) meets his nephew Hugo (Raphael Alejandro) decades later.
This framing device — which began as “How I Met Your Mother” in its first season but takes on a slight “Definitely Maybe” tone in season 2 — is the most obvious example of “Acapulco” building on a solid, familiar Foundation. Much like Abbott Elementary is built on a convenient workplace mockumentary framework, or Ted Lasso borrowed its core premise from Major League, Acapulco is a classic single-cam sitcom through and through. And like those other shows, “Acapulco” has found its own ways of taking that familiarity and imbuing it with its own distinctive charm, ripe for audiences to devour in delight.
The clearest example of what “Acapulco” offers compared to the rest of the comedy field is that it’s bilingual. The show jumps between Spanish and English in conversations Maximo has with his family, his work love Julia (Camila Perez), his faithful friend Memo (Fernando Carsa), or any number of people at the Las Colinas resort who act as mentors. The show is built on such a solid foundation of wit and is so teeming with charismatic performers that those laughs come in both languages without needing to be fluent.
A good chunk of these jokes come against the backdrop of Las Colinas and all of its candy-colored replica details. The show thrives on those pastel tones, but there’s an added thrill in Season 2 of seeing how “Acapulco” makes even more use of space. These punchlines have an extra energy when they come in the middle of a choreographed walk-and-talk across a sunlit pool deck or through the hallways near the front desk. And of course, the show brings back its pair of pool performers, who sing along to Spanish-language covers of ’80s hits and perform two-person dances. The natural warmth that Maximo feels on the Las Colinas grounds also makes it easy for the audience to spend more time there.
In doing so, the resort really becomes the perfect playground for recreating one classic sitcom problem after another. VIP guests make everyone freak out. Employees make deals behind the scenes to get closer to people who might be able to help them. The never-ending stream of new tourists means each of the show’s main characters can try on a different role or use a clean slate to make their shot better, in whatever form.
There are few comedies on television with a better sense of structure and payoff. So many of these episodes take place over the course of a day, giving them a sense of rhythm and closure that comes with some of TV’s best comfort food. Maximo’s feelings for Julia, the internal conflict within his family away from work, and the mystery surrounding his eventual rise to super-rich in the future: all of this simmers in the background, but they never detract from the fact that any of these episodes have their own problems and Solutions. Those who rail against television’s “X-hour movie” fiction have a helpful ally in “Acapulco.”
This is also a show that works hard to build on the goodwill audiences can have for its characters. Arrizon is such an unfailingly cheerful force throughout the show that you really have to try not to be charmed by him and young Maximo. Even characters that “Acapulco” casts as potential villains — resort owner Diane Davies (Jessica Collins), her son Chad (Chord Overstreet), and gruff operations manager Don Pablo (Damián Alcázar) — all get their chance to show the charm behind the film Facade. By the time the show gives each of them their own backstory-revealing episodes, “Acapulco” has built up a roster of people to care for, even if their happiness and achievements sometimes threaten to upset Maximos.
With easy-to-love characters, the built-in rhythms of workplace comedy, and truly moving family drama, “Acapulco” not only has the ingredients to be a huge hit with audiences, but also to be a Best Comedy Underdog of sorts that “Abbott Elementary” during the past Emmys season. And it doesn’t take multiple episodes to generate all that goodwill. Season 1 starts off with all of those elements, and Season 2 does a solid job of giving newcomers enough context to jump in. Now, “Ted Lasso” has two seasons of public momentum, acclaim, and built-in speaking-mouth Attention, there’s plenty of room for the Apple TV+ to build its successor. After the debut of “Acapulco” played relatively quietly last fall, now is the perfect time to catch up if you want to.
The simplest argument for “Acapulco” is that it’s just really funny. With a well-defined sense of what drives each of these characters, the show can draw on Diane’s fears, Memo’s lovesickness, Maximo’s ambition, or Chad’s… Chadness. (The best jokes in season 2 might be the running gag that comes with a bunch of Chad’s college buddies coming over for a stay in Las Colinas.) Between awkward pauses, snap-zooms, montages, and good old-fashioned one-liners, this isn’t the case ‘not a show that relies solely on cultural references to make people laugh.
This sense of humor gives way to a general sense of sincerity and enthusiasm that makes love easy. While most of today’s Maximo/Hugo scenes took place in the same location in season 1, season 2 gives them a chance to go around almost 40 years later and visit some of the places he speaks of. When Derbez is having so much fun and the punchlines are whizzing by at breakneck speed and people are swaying to a Go-Gos cover and there’s not a cloud in the sky, “Acapulco” is a show that sells. All Apple TV+ has to do is give people a better shot at checking in.
The first two episodes of Acapulco Season 2 are available to stream now on Apple TV+. There are new episodes every Friday.
https://www.indiewire.com/2022/10/acapulco-season-2-apple-tv-show-best-comedy-1234774997/ ‘Acapulco’ Season 2: Apple Should Give It A Best Comedy Ted Lasso Push